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Robot Concept Design Fail: Korea’s Prison Security Guard

Halt, criminal scum!  Here, have some complimentary cigarettes.

This here’s a conceptual rendering of a robotic prison security guard being developed by the Korean Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and Kyonggi University.  Three of the robots will be tested in an actual prison next year as part of the 1 billion-won  ($863,000 USD) project.

Now, I don’t know how bad the prisons are in South Korea, but I can’t imagine this deterring criminals from any wrongdoing.  Far from the intimidating design one might expect, its bright colors and perpetual smile bring back memories of cute cartoon characters.  Maybe that’s part of the plan, like it’s supposed to lull you into believing it’s harmless before it zaps you with the tazer / pepper spray, I don’t know.

In any case, the final robot is expected to stand 150cm (5′) tall and weigh 70kg (154 lbs) and move at a walking pace as it patrols a corrections facility.  The idea is to use the robot for relatively simple tasks, like night-time surveillance to let prison officials concentrate on higher-level work, which sounds to me like a weakness waiting to be exploited.  The robot’s camera will send a live video feed to the central control room, and its speakers and microphones will allow guards to indirectly communicate with prisoners.

The reports claim that some form of behavior detection software will immediately notify the control room if it detects violence (including prisoner suicide) but that seems doubtful.  What’s more likely is that a guard will still have to keep an eye on things at all times.

[source: EToday (KR)]

  • Torsten Schmidt

    What a winning smile. This could be the prisoners best friend. ;)

  • I don’t think it’s a fail. I think that thinking all prison guard robots should look like Zeus from Real Steel or something is sort of a fail. That’s how prisons work HERE, but in some other countries (like in Finland, which has the lowest crime rate of any country in the European Union), their prison systems are designed around treating prisoners well. Which I, personally, don’t agree with, but whatever – you can’t argue with results. Put a robot in there that’s intimidating and I can guarantee prisoners will try to destroy it. But this guy? He’ll probably be fine ;)

    • To be more specific, I think these kinds of robots should look more like bomb disposal robots than humanoids.  They don’t need to be given a specific personality.